Carpet Cleaning Methods

Man-cleaning-carpetThere is no escape from your annual carpet cleaning service. After all, you have invested a substantial amount of money and your investment requires professional care and maintenance. However, before you start searching on Google for local carpet cleaners, you might find it helpful to learn more about the main carpet cleaning methods today. You could use the knowledge to pick the right carpet cleaning company for your domestic carpeting.

If you wonder if there is a cleaning approach which is the best, you will be disappointed. It’s true that professional carpet cleaners use hot water extraction the most, but they are cautious proclaiming it for the best one. What’s more, each cleaning job has its specifics. So, deciding which is the most adequate approach depends on a range of factors. It’s important to remember that all cleaning methods have advantages but at the same time have drawbacks.

There are 4 carpet cleaning methods approved by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration (IICRC):

  • Bonnet cleaning
  • Carpet Shampooing
  • Dry Compound cleaning
  • Hot water extraction

Below you can find more detailed information about each cleaning approach.

Bonnet Cleaning

Oftentimes bonnet cleaning is confused with "dry carpet cleaning" which is wrong because this method applies a fair amount of water. First, special cleaning solution is sprayed onto the surface which is then agitated with a rotary machine. The machine uses an absorbent pad to rub in solution into the carpet. At the same time the pad removes trapped soil. Once one side of the pad gets dirty it’s reversed. Usually the pad is used until both sides are soiled. Then it’s changed with a clean one.

One of the main advantages of this cleaning approach is the fast drying period because only a small amount of water is used. Bonner cleaning does good job when it comes to cleaning the carpet surface but it fails at removing set-in dirt and grime.

Carpet Shampooing

Also known as foam cleaning because rotation turns the shampoo into thick foam. This method uses cleaning solution (shampoo) which is worked into the carpet via a rotary pad. Its agitation capabilities are effective for cleaning heavy soiled low cut office or domestic carpets. This approach lacks extraction and relies on vacuuming after the shampoo has dried for residue to be removed and cleaned properly.

There are two types of equipment used in the process:

  • Cylindrical foam
  • Rotary Shampoo

Carpet shampooing is an outdated cleaning approach which is considered to be inferior to the other three methods. It’s main limitation is poor results due to quick re-soiling. What’s more rotating equipment can cause damage to cut pile carpets, which is one of the most popular in homes.

Dry Compound Cleaning


Also known as "dry carpet cleaning" actually uses water in the cleaning process but in minimal quantities. The dry absorbent substance can be a powder (usually mixed with small amounts of cleaning detergent, solvent and water) or a greener option like wooden chips. The absorbent powder is sprinkled onto the carpet or rubbed in with a machine. The substance attracts and bonds with dirt and soil, breaking its bond with carpet fibres.

The end phase involves vacuuming the surface with industrial power vacuum cleaner. It should be done meticulously in order to remove all dislodged soil from the carpet. Otherwise quick re-soiling might ensue. On this YouTube video you can see how the cleaning process unfolds. The main advantage of this method is the absence of downtime to use the carpet after the procedure. However, it’s only suitable for lightly soiled surfaces because it can’t reach deep into the carpet pile to extract deeply embedded dirt and grit.

Hot Water Extraction


HWE is oftentimes called "steam carpet cleaning" which in fact is misnomer. There is absolutely no steam used with this carpet cleaning method. All hot water extraction machines both portable and truck-mounted use hot water, hence the name of the approach. It’s regarded as the best carpet cleaning method when it comes to treatment of heavily soiled areas. First hot cleaning solution or sometimes only water is sprayed under pressure into the carpet fibres. It dissolves dirt and breaks its bond with the carpet fibres. At the same time, the dirty solution/water is vacuum up. If you’re curious to understand more about the process, watch this YouTube video.

Several factors influence the results with hot water extraction cleaning:

  • Skills and experience of carpet technician:
  • Solution/water temperature
  • Equipment and spray pressure

Today, hot water extraction is deemed as the most effective and thorough carpet cleaning process by and large. It actually delivers fantastic results. However, you should forget that there isn’t one fit all solution when it comes to carpet cleaning.

No matter which carpet cleaning method turns out to be suitable for your carpets one thing is for sure. Work has to be carried by skillful and experienced carpet cleaner which will guarantee high-quality results for your home carpeting. If they are certified by a nationally recognized organization like the National Carpet Cleaning Association (NCCA) in UK, the better.

One Comment

  1. Levi Armstrong

    Our teenage son had a house party while my wife and I were gone for a vacation. We had our son clean the whole place when we got back this weekend as a punishment. However, he cannot get rid of the stains from the carpet in our living room despite washing it multiple times. I like that you said hot water extraction is considered to be the most effective carpet cleaning process by pressure washing into the carpet fibers. Perhaps we should just hire a carpet cleaning service that does hot water extraction cleaning using my son’s savings to have the carpet thoroughly cleaned. Thanks for this!

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